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On the surface, both evangelism and marketing may seem like they are on opposite ends of the spectrum. When it comes to professional life, I argue that they are essentially the same thing.

Photo credit: red line highway via Foter.com / CC BY

Photo credit: red line highway via Foter.com / CC BY

The purpose of excellent marketing and evangelism should be to foster deeper relationships with people. For a church, this means inviting individuals in the community into a relationship with God. For businesses, it means inviting consumers into a relationship of exchanging goods and services.

Think of it this way. While a freshman at the University of Kansas, I attended the group and organizations fair. Some groups talked about what they did, some spoke of what I could do. Few groups tried to get to know and offer me something. Ask yourself or reflect on which of these three groups you’d like to join. Take it a step further and you realize every customer or potential new church member is asking themselves the same question.

Why don’t we try to establish a relationship with customers and evangelize? Because it’s difficult, uncomfortable, involves risk, and can be costly. One example that always comes to mind for me is billboards and advertisements in the back of church bulletins. Let me be clear: advertising is necessary and can be used as a powerful tool to start relationships, but are you using it to invite people into relationship?

The purpose of excellent #marketing and #evangelism should be to foster deeper #relationships… Click To Tweet

What Can Businesses Learn From Evangelism?

In my mind evangelism may be the best example of grassroots marketing and beginning a relationship.

talkOne of the most exciting organizations doing this right now is the Fellowship Of Catholic University Students or FOCUS. FOCUS sends recent college graduates on a two year evangelism mission to other universities. They collaborate with Catholic parishes, student organizations, lead bible studies, and provide one-on-one mentoring.

Imagine if your business had an outreach program such as this. Companies like Adidas and others are now hiring college representatives to do similar work.

The reasons to market like this are evident, but the cost can be daunting. While president of the KU German Club, I tried to host open events, potlucks, and movie screenings to try and promote the organization. Many times, though, I was the only one that showed. It was embarrassing and costly, as I paid for refreshments.

But, I see it in perspective as growing pains. During the times people did show, they became regulars at events.

What Can Evangelism Learn From Business?

Evangelism could benefit from the discipline and best practices that businesses use daily to drive results. In my experience, successful businesses set goals, establish a strategy, and have the discipline to stick to their strategies or make changes if unsuccessful. Does your parish and church have a plan or system for the entire process of evangelism?

The inspiration for this article came from a parish mission I went on with the sisters of the Apostles of the Interior Life. We worked with a parish in Iowa to help parishioners deepen their relationship with God.

Does your #parish and #church have a plan for #evangelism? Click To Tweet

With my business studies in mind, I tried to keep in my mind my role in the process. In the span of the people I worked with, I played a very small role in their spiritual journey. Church and parish leaders must have a long term idea of how a person can continue to grow in deeper relationship with God.

Depending on the situation, community, and environment, this system can take many different forms. The system should have a desired and achievable goal of what a full active member should look like and how the church facilitates the process.

prayOn my parish mission, we advised the evangelism group to start with prayer. It offers a great way for people to discover God and lay the foundation for further growth.

A next step could be introducing scripture or learning about church services. The system should be constructed in a way that the steps aren’t overwhelming.

Another aspect should be role establishment. On the mission, the sisters led the mission and were the primary teachers, and I served as a witness. Who will be responsible for the aspects of a person’s spiritual growth? This offers a way for many people to get involved in evangelism and take ownership in a church’s growth.

For both businesses and churches, relationships and systems are necessary for growth. Relationships are the fuel that brings people in and systems help people grow in deeper relationship. If you keep the end goal in mind and focus on the people, then you will find the process  exciting and successful.

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